South Sudan

South Sudan: Heavy Gunfire as SPLA Battles Machar’s Commando Unit in Juba

According to Gatdet, this is a picture of the gunships being used now by President Kiir's forces in bombing SPLA-IO base at Jebel

Fighting between forces loyal to President Salva Kiir and his Deputy Dr Riek Machar has intensified in the South Sudan Capital, price Juba as the country slips back into anarchy.

Defence officials telephoned ChimpReports at 10:00am on Sunday, sick saying an unknown force quietly recruited by Dr Machar was holding ground near his residence in Jebel.

“There is a commando unit at Machar’s base at Jebel. They tried to force their way into the presidential palace at JI on Friday, sparking a fight with presidential guards, leading to the death of over 150 people,” said a high ranking officer who preferred anonymity so as to speak freely.

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“So, we asked Machar’s people to tell us who these people are. Even Machar’s guards who were stationed at JI during the Friday meeting with President Kiir and Interior Minister could not identify them,” the source added.

It is understood that Kiir suspects Machar could have brought on board a specialized military unit to reinforce his security which could tilt the balance of power at the tightly-guarded centre of power in Juba.

Machar’s spokesperson James Gatdet Dak said on his Facebook page on Sunday that President Salva Kiir’s forces are bombing Jebel site with helicopter gunships and shelling it with heavy artilleries.

“But our forces have defeated them on the ground and pushed them back from different directions,” said Gatdet.

He further said there was intense fighting at Juba International Airport around 11:30am.

However, South Sudan Foreign Affairs official, Gordon Buay said SPLA did not attack Jebel.

“What happened minutes ago is a clash between the reconnaissance forces of the SPLA-IO and SPLA. It is now contained,” said Buay.

“The movement of SPLA-IO reconnaissance force at 8:00am was misunderstood by the reconnaissance of the SPLA who thought that the IO reconnaissance force was coming to attack them because they did not inform the SPLA forces prior to their move. If the IO reconnaissance informed the SPLA reconnaissance, such a clash could have been avoided.”

But civilians in Juba say fighting started as early as 7:30am and continues to reverberate across the capital.

“Heavy bombardments can be heard from Jebel side,” says Gale Dak, 24, a resident of Juba.

“We are stuck indoors.”

The latest fighting has threatened to derail the peace process that had reunited Machar and Kiir in the Transitional Government of National Unity.

But Buay said the military leadership of the SPLA-IO and the SPLA are in contact, adding, “Gen. Simon Gatwec Duel and Gen. Paul Malong have already moved to contain it.”


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